“Stop whining, and add a fruit.” ~ Kris Carr
It has been over 2 weeks now since I have returned from the Hay House conference that I attended with Marla entitled, “I Can Do It!” in D.C. I had accidentally stumbled upon the event on Kris Carr’s website, as she was one of the speakers, and given that Marla is more knowledgable about “personal growth”, I sent her the link with a note that said, “Is this legit?” To which she quickly replied back, “YES!” It was soon thereafter that we decided, instead of a girl’s vacation which we try and take yearly (though some years it’s been tougher than others due to work and schedules), we would meet in D.C. for the weekend and soak up some life inspiration.
Now I know what you some of you may be thinking: With a title like that, it’s got to be pretty hokey, right? A bunch of touchy-feely people sitting around talking about their emotions, crying at the drop of a hat? Swaying to silent music and chanting “I Can Do It!” Well, there was no silent music or chanting, but there were a lot of people there who were introspective, interesting, self-aware, and open. The focus of the weekend was on personal growth, positivity, purpose, relationships, good health and love. It was an interesting mix of people; one woman had 2 “therapy bunnies” with her in a stroller named William and Shakespeare (I kid you not). There were a few men here and there, but it was mostly women of all ages. And the vibe throughout the whole weekend was that everybody who was there understood that there is something very powerful and enlightening about a) positive and inspirational (true) stories (one speaker/author was close to death from cancer, fell into a coma, had a near death experience, regained consciousness, and a few weeks later was cancer free) and b) learning about and connecting with your purpose (which doesn’t necessarily mean “I want to be an astronaut one day.” It can be just getting to know yourself, and then living an authentic life). Who among us is so arrogant as to say that we are perfect, that we have all it figured out? Can any of us really say that everything that we have ever imagined has come true? That we know and understand the difference between your archetype and mine? How the meaning of resilience has changed over the years?
Out of all of the inspirational and motivational speakers that weekend (and there were many, probably about 15), by far my favorite– of course– was Kris Carr. She was real, warm, kind, funny, relatable, and just the person to help me see outside of the “cancer box.” In her hour-long talk, she reminded me not to miss “those” moments; the special ones that are harder to see through the fog of cancer. She taught me that what we can control is what we eat, drink, and think. She gave me the gift of understanding that taking care of myself is not selfish, it’s loving.
I was in a trance for that hour, listening to this survivor of a stage 4 cancer speak from the heart, and so wisely, so grounded. (The doctors gave her about 10 years to live with what they hoped would be a slow-growing and not aggressive cancer, and that was 10.5 years ago, and thank g-d, her tumors have now shrunk!). When Mar and I got in line to have our Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips book signed, my knees started to buckle as the line moved forward, and I got closer to her. By the time it was my turn, salty tears were pouring down my cheeks, and I could barely get my words out (embarrassed!). “Are those happy tears, I hope?” Kris asked me, as I put my book on the table in between the two of us. “No,” I sobbed, “I was just, hiccup, diagnosed with a, hiccup, stage 4 cancer, hiccup.” She gently took my hands in hers and whispered, “It’s terrifying at first, but it does get easier, I promise.” I nodded. By this point I was crying harder than I had since the doctor had first diagnosed me, and I couldn’t stop. She came around the table and hugged me, whispered into my ear. She signed my book “To Samantha, Peace, Love, and Veggies, Kris” with a heart, and then looked me in the eyes and said, “The next time that we meet, sweetheart, those will be happy tears.” It was all that I could do to nod again, and whisper “thank you.” What I really wanted was to grab her and ask her if it would really be OK; somehow I knew that whatever she said, I would believe. I wanted to have hours and hours alone with her, to talk about everything: The diagnosis, the treatment (there has never been any conventional treatments for her kind of cancer), the doctors (we both get our care at Dana Farber), the holistic side of it, the nutritional side of it, how to write a book, how to talk to my friends about the cancer, how to talk to my family about the cancer, how to support my husband (she married her Crazy Sexy Cancer documentary director/editor back in 2006), and how to find some way to get kale down when you can’t stand the taste of it (Does the lemon juice, apple, cucumber and celery really help to mask the kale taste in a smoothie?). But alas, after a quick picture (in which we were hustled by an event director, as pictures weren’t really allowed), there were hundreds of other people probably waiting to ask her the same questions, and so I stepped aside and fell into Marla’s arms, weeping for my life b.c. (before cancer), and letting myself finally feel what I had been scared to release since the day I was diagnosed.
When I returned home, I began thinking about where Kris is now in her life, 10.5 years after her diagnosis. She has made a documentary and written books and cookbooks. She has a website, a following, and speaks all over the country. She quit her job after being diagnosed and ultimately married, bought a farm, and adopted a dog with her husband. Her life now seems to have great purpose, but I wonder about the months following the diagnosis, if she felt as lost as I do (my bet would be on yes). I wonder if I have anything of value to give to anybody else, the way that she has given value to me. I wonder if the gray will ever fade, if things will ever feel real again. I wonder when I will get to be with Kris Carr next, and if I will have figured out anything by then. I wonder if indeed my tears will ever be happy.